I have to admit that so far, this has been one of my most favorite winters of my life. Not because anything spectacular has happened, or for that matter anything remotely out of the order, but just because it has been so pretty. I often take pretty for granted, and I have to remind myself that I am a lucky so-and-so because I get to live in this gorgeous part of the world. I live next to the largest lake in the world; when she freezes up, it is glorious. At first she steams, then ice chunks form, then the ferry stops running and soon, if the islanders are lucky, an ice road arrives. That’s pretty cool. And that’s just the lake! To have my morning commute littered with beautiful trees, decked out in a layer of snow is fairly fabulous. Think lovely actresses at the Oscars wearing diamonds. No…it’s actually nothing like that, but it is pretty stunning. I live in what the beer commercials call God’s Country; although, I think God could lay claim to the whole planet if asked, so there you go. This winter, I have really enjoyed my wood stove, the snow on the trees, the lake freezing up and the big clear night skies. It has been glorious and really, really pretty.
I haven’t even been the least bit bummed at the latest ridiculously large snow accumulations. I actually got giddy this part weekend thinking we would get another 10 inches on the ground. Why not? I prefer pretty white to the muddy, brown yuk of Spring. After a strong, solid, snow storm, it’s as if some nurse from the 1950’s (you know the one – all dressed in white, wearing the nurse hat, and squeaky white shoes) came through town with a bucket of bleach and purified everything. Apparently, my version is Mother Nature is more of a Nurse Ratchet.
When I was a kid, there was a whopper of a snow storm. I was around 10 and my sister was 14. We were home alone, and my parents were driving back from Milwaukee. Like I said, it was a bad storm, and they had gotten into an accident; they were fine, but it meant we were to be left alone overnight. Due to the blizzard, my parent’s friends couldn’t even drive across town to check on us. We were absolutely alone for at least 24 hours. I remember being really excited about this prospect. I immediately had visions of Laura Ingalls and wondered if we should make a fire, although we didn’t have any wood… Maybe we should break up a chair with a hatchet and spark it up in the fire-place! I saw that in a movie once! My sister quickly put the kibosh on that. Instead, she made Mac and Cheese and made sure to be close to the phone, as my mother was calling every hour, on the hour to make sure we were OK. I could tell my sister was getting worried, and silently prayed for my parent’s speedy return, but I remember thinking it was pretty awesome.
We lived close to the lake, so the strong wind was pushing the snow up over the windows on the first floor. It was as if we were in our own snow fort, if snow forts had a furnace, television and pong. We couldn’t see out of the house at all, at least on the first floor. However, funny thing, the light still seemed to find its way through all the snow. Our family room wasn’t dark at all, but lovely. Everything seemed to have a magical glow about it.
The next afternoon, my parents came home, exhausted and emotionally thin. My father started shoveling us out, but before he did, I opened a window to touch the snow wall that had accumulated on the glass. I held my hands out and touched the snow. My hand started to melt it, and left a print of it there in the snow. It was nothing special, and yet it was.
Yesterday, I got caught in some bad weather while picking up Em from a sleepover. By the time she got in the car, there was about a quarter of an inch of ice on the windows. After scraping and cursing, I hopped in the car, only to see I missed the windows in back. In hopes of a lazy miracle, I rolled the windows down, hoping the ice and snow would magically fall off. It didn’t. In fact, the ice stayed glued in the same spot as where the window was. It looked like some sort of modern, hip stained glass one would see in a trendy, uptown bar. You couldn’t see out of it, but it allowed light into the car. Slowly, Emily put her hands up and touched the ice and smiled. “Mom! Check this out! This is so cool!” Nothing special, and yet it was.